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Source: Human Rights Commission

Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo handed over a 4,141 strong petition to the Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Michael Wood at parliament today.

The EEO Commissioner has been advocating alongside women’s groups, unions, businesses, and allies for the introduction of a pay transparency mechanism to ensure that government and businesses uphold their domestic and international human rights commitments and employment law obligations.

“Ending the secrecy around pay and promotion is an opportunity to do right by everyone in all their diversity, in every business, every industry, at every level,” said Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo.

“By making pay visible we help job seekers market their talent, indicate a business that values fairness, and help to identify and address any unfairness, unconscious bias and discrimination in our workplaces,” she added.

The Commission recommends that an independent agency is set up to collect and publish pay information and provide resources for workers and workplaces to ensure pay equity and equal employment opportunities.

“Employer anxiety around dealing with questions from workers about fairness and equality over pay and promotional opportunities is no reason to keep pay scales hidden and locked under clauses that forbid people to talk about their pay with others.”

“This entrenched secrecy around pay and progression continues to fuel ethnic, gender and disability pay gaps across Aotearoa New Zealand. It must end with us now,” added Ms Sumeo. 

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said the government has a duty under international and domestic human rights law to ensure equal pay for work of equal value.

“Discrimination in the form of lower pay and slower career progression affects women, Māori, Pacific, disabled, migrant, minority ethnic and the rainbow community, the most. These groups have been waiting far too long for the guarantee of equal pay. I urge the government to expedite the recommendations outlined in the petition,” said Chief Commissioner Hunt.

The Human Rights Commission is calling on the government to legislate pay transparency as several other countries have, but in alignment with values that uniquely define us.

“Pay transparency will help make fair pay and equal opportunity real for everyone, starting with closing gender, ethnic and disability pay inequity,” said Ms Sumeo.

“I am hopeful the government will consider our petition and begin work towards pay transparency legislation. By ensuring equal pay for work of equal value, we all help create a fairer society, where everyone can achieve their potential and be fairly rewarded for the work they do.”



In 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo launched a petition calling on the government to introduce legislation that could set up an independent pay transparency agency to help close the gender pay gap. Here is our petition: Demand Pay Transparency

In June of 2020, the Human Rights Commission published a first of its kind research into the Opinions and Experiences of Unequal Pay and Pay Transparency.  The research revealed a large number of workers experienced being paid less than someone else in the same role during their working career, with women, Pacific people, those aged 18-24, and those earning less than $80,000 most likely to fall in this category. More details here: New research reveals large number of Kiwis are experiencing unequal pay

As a result of the recommendations of the pay transparency research including labour force data indicating an alarming pay gap experienced by Pacific peoples as the lowest-paid workers in the country, the EEO Commissioner launched a national inquiry into the Pacific Pay Gap.

This national inquiry hopes to better understand why the Pacific Pay Gap exists and how it can be closed. Through the Inquiry, the Commission hopes to recommend solutions to address the persistent pay gap, racial discrimination, and lack of equal employment opportunities that Pacific peoples face. You can find out more here: The Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry

During our campaign, the Government’s Enduring Letter of Expectations for 2019 and 2020 financial years explicitly lists the expectation for Crown entities to close both gender and ethnic pay gaps. Unions have also started advocating for closing the ethnic pay gap.